nearer home95—Stephen having already made his
rather obvious joke—"Whatever the Guv'iior may
say in his sermon about 'imparting5, if I ever get a
new hunting-coat I'm going to ruddy well keep my
old one for wet days!"
The sun was shining when we emerged from the
musty smelling interior. The Colonel, with his
nattily rolled umbrella, perfectly brushed bowler hat,
and nervously blinking eyes, paid his respects to Mrs.
Golwood with punctilious affability; then he shep-
herded Stephen and myself away to have a look round
his stables before lunch. We were there in less than
five minutes, the Colonel chatting so gaily all the way
that I could scarcely have got a word in edgeways
even if I had felt sufficient confidence in myself to try.
The Colonel had been a widower for many years,
and like most lonely living people he easily became
talkative. Everything in his establishment was
arranged and conducted with elaborate nicety and
routine, and he took an intense pride in his stable,
which contained half a dozen hunters who stood
in well-aired and roomy loose-boxes, surrounded
by every luxury which the ColonePs care could
contrive: the name of each horse was on a tablet
suspended above the manger. Elegant green stable-
buckets (with the Colonel's numerous initials painted
on them in white) were arranged at regular intervals
along the walls, and the harness-room was hung
with enough bits and bridles to stock a saddler's shop.
It was, as Stephen pointed out to me afterwards,
"a regular museum of mouth-gear". For the Colonel
was one of those fussy riders with indifferent hands
who are always trying their horses with a new bit.
"I haven't found the key to this mare's mouth yet,'*
he would say, as the irritated animal shook its head